German community honors US bomber crew shot down in WWII

Almost seventy years ago, a WWII bomber went down on the outskirts of Vaterstetten in Germany. A B-24 Liberator, the aircraft was commonly referred to as the Yellow G. Now, just a couple of months before the seventieth anniversary of that crash, citizens of Vaterstetten have come together in honor of the plane as well as its crew. They are continuing a show of peace that began so many years ago when Germans first decided to honor the Americans aboard the WWII bomber.

The American crew number ten people. There were four survivors who ended up imprisoned by enemy soldiers, but six did not walk away at all. In 2009, a monument was built to the entire crew, both living and dead, who manned the WWII bomber on its ill-fated mission to Munich. While some people living in Vaterstetten were perturbed by the idea of memorializing men who had essentially killed a good number of their relatives, modern peace was more important to the town overall.

The rededication ceremony for the memorial kept the losses of Germans in mind, honoring more than just the flight crew of the Yellow G. The Americans were represented by some family members, as well as Air Force pilot Jeffery Marler. In addition to the crew of the WWII bomber, German soldiers were honored by the town’s mayor, Georg Reitsberger. Also in attendance were residents of the town who were alive to see the crash of the Yellow G when it happened on July 19th of 1944.

The people of Vaterstetten were not the only ones who had to deal with sore memories of the war. Frances Doherty lost her father to the crash, and spent a good deal of her life determined never to visit Germany at all. Yet she attended the ceremony in honor of the WWII bomber crew and, despite hesitation, found the experience to be uplifting. She found that, even in the country with which he was at war at the time of his death, her father was remembered for his sacrifice, the Stars and Stripes reports.

The WWII bomber, the Yellow G, could have easily been forgotten. Many planes went down during the war, and for a great deal of them that was the last that was ever heard of the aircraft or its crew. The Yellow G is a more enlightening story, however, as it is not just remembered by the country it had been set to attack, but it is honored by them as well. To many living in Vaterstetten, those aboard the WWII bomber were much like those lost in their own families—men who were lost by their families while in service to their country.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE